Rediscovery

The past week has been a rough one. Eli has been sick, like, miserably sick. As soon as he seemed like he was turning a corner, he would make a u-turn and get sicker instead. He got to enjoy his first ER visit on Wednesday followed by a pediatrician visit yesterday and is now on antibiotics for the first time. He’s also about this close to cutting a tooth. Two actually, but one is closer than the other, it seems.

And that paragraph about covers my entire week. Well, that and we went to the zoo. But otherwise, that is literally everything that happened.

I love being this child’s mother so very much. I love that right now our finances and my job give me the flexibility to be home with my sick child. I don’t for a moment want to sound ungrateful for that. And I do not mean to complain about him being sick, though I know I have done my share of that. I wouldn’t exchange anything for the ability to be home with my child when he is unwell. Or the rest of the time, for that matter.

But I find that something feels off in my life. And maybe it’s just because he has needed so much more attention this week and I have had little time for anything else. Or maybe it’s because I’m not working much right now (I work Friday and then not at all until January, not by choice, but by lack of people taking vacation time). But I’m feeling like somewhere along the line, I’ve lost myself.

I was reading through my own twitter stream tonight, at the suggestion of the internet, to assess how much I’d been bitching about my child being sick (verdict: a lot. My bad.) and I noticed something. Every tweet is about him. Obviously it’s not the greatest assessment of my life since I do occasionally do things that I do not document on twitter, but Facebook is similar, my text messages are similar. I don’t see anything related to me anywhere. Thinking back upon recent days, I can’t remember the last time I did something I wanted to do, or something that was just fun for me.

I’m trying to remember who I am in all of this. I think I’ve just always been embedded in projects. First it was teaching and getting into grad school. Then it was grad school. Now it’s motherhood. I get so engrossed in these activities that they come to completely define me. And it was a seamless transition from grad school to motherhood, what with the conclusion of one and the start of another happening on the same day. But I’m left wondering what’s left of me.

I no longer seem to have hobbies. Nap time is pumping time or cleaning time or nap time for me too. Eli’s bed time is much the same, as well as alone time with my husband. I am trying to remember what I used to do before Eli. I used to read. I used to bake. I used to be passionate about politics. I used to be into exercise and cooking. Now I am into my baby.

It’s not that that’s not a good thing. It’s not that I don’t love being his mother, because I do, with every single fiber of my being. I want to be clear about this, because some day if he reads these words, I want him to know that I truly love spending time with him. That I love watching him learn new things and grow and change. That he brings me immeasurable joy each and every day.

But I also want his mother to have a personality, an identity outside of him, because I don’t think this is healthy for either of us. I don’t want to just be Elijah’s mom, I also want to be Katie.

I just don’t yet know where to start to rediscover myself.

9 Responses to “Rediscovery”

  • Beth:

    Read Mean Moms Rule. Seriously. I was actually thinking about you as I was reading the first couple of chapters.

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  • kimybeee:

    Katie i think of life as an evolution of reading a book. We start out as babies and as we grow and change or focus changes too, we are tuning pages quickly. I have been married 20 years and have children that are 18 (19 next month) and 16. When I started dating my husband i had a great job that made good money. We got married, job started sucking – quit job, got new job, got pregnant, miscarried, then got pregnant again. I was very sick throughout my pregnancy and never went back after i was put on maternity leave. My focus was my growing family. Then the kids hit school age – volunteering and sports and new hobbies became the focus. Then the kids are older and less dependent, pto president, in charge of lots of school projects and still chasing kids – then they both were in middle school and a job found me that i love.

    I am 5 years into my job and still love it. I have the flexibilty to still be the mom that is involved – but i have me time too. My husband and i have always been so close and best friends and we have a ton of fun together. We have a freshman away at college and a super busy junior in high school. We support our kids and help them do anything they ask – but, we made them smart and independent and capable of doing anything they set their minds too.

    In two years we will have two kids away at college – 3 hours away in opposite directions. Then our focus will be on something new – it all evolves as we grow and turn the pages of our book and move onto new chapters.

    Does every parent have days where they wonder what they did before kids – sure we do, but most of us wouldn’t change a thing. I suffered through the babies being sick – my 16 year old is sick now and advised to stay home from school. He won’t stay home because he is busy and passionate about school and the things he loves. I remember those times my babies were sick and i was helpless to make them better – now i look back on those times as some of the greatest memories. I was able to be there to hug them and hold them and rock them and let them know they always had me to depend on – and at 16 and 18 – they still have days they want their mommy!!

    So everything you are experiencing is just part of the life book that is unfolding before you. You are kinda reading a smudged book dealing with the anxiety (i suffer very much) and you will have trials and errors, but you will be okay. Eli will be great and you too will remember these days. Just look at eli and picture him driving, cause it will feel like it will happen tomorrow! Don’t be so hard on yourself!!!

    Love and prayers to you and yours!!

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  • Cheryl:

    Try not to be too hard on yourself! Our babies are the same age and I’m the EXACT same when it comes to ‘me time’ I used to do lots of things but just now it’s all about Aoife. I also find just now I’m greedy for the time I get to spend with her before I go back to work in the new year. Don’t listen to people who criticise your twitter feed – dealing with a sick baby is hard work and it’s good to let that grumpiness and irritation out like that because then you can go back and calmly look after your boy. We’ve not had real illness yet, it’s bad enough just dealing with us both having the cold and her teething so my heart has been really going out to you. Sending big hugs to you both, xxx.

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  • Before we had kids, I, too, worried we would lose “me-ness”, and at times, it seems I have. My thoughts steer back to my children, and Mr. Apron and I have to work to have a conversation not about the silly/annoying things they did today. While I may be pumping or cleaning or napping when they’re napping, there are also times when I have somehow miraculously earned free time (both babies napping for a long time, at the same time!), and there isn’t laundry, and there aren’t dishes or diapers to do, and I still struggle to find myself. I’m not sure sometimes what I would do if I had that time. Slowly, I’ve tried to put baking back into the mix, or a little crafting. But it’s hard. I hope as they become less physically needy, I’ll be able to regain more of myself.

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  • Tia:

    Being a mom of a small child IS your world. That makes you a good mom! It will get better as he gets less needy and more independent. In the meantime, cut yourself some slack. Being a mom is hard, and we’re totally allowed to whine/talk about it all the time :)

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  • Nikki:

    Hey Katie, I’m not a mom but I follow you via your blog and Twitter. Just wanted to give you some encouragement – I know it’s been a tough week for you but hopefully Eli gets well soon & you can breathe a little easier! Your son seems like an awesome baby (and is such a cutie!) so although the last week has been bad, it’s a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. Perspective, she is elusive in the thick of things.

    Anyways, love reading your writing & watching Eli grow up – hope the end of your week is better than the first half. Hang in there!

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  • Oh Katie, I totally feel you on this. I’m currently struggling with the marked difference in personal time that I have. By the time I get home I have less than an hour to spend with Moe before he’s asleep and then I have to eat, wash pump parts, do laundry, talk to my husband and before I know it it’s 10pm and I’m exhausted. I don’t know when I’m supposed to have me time anymore except for at work, and while I love my job, it’s not exactly my hobby, you know? It’s all so hard, and I think the first year is sort of like that for most moms. I’ve heard it gets better! xo

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  • Elise:

    This first year of parenting is so intense, it really does consume you. But once he is walking and starting to talk, space will open up for “you” again. I found it was best for me to submit to parenting that first year, it helped alleviate the guilt. I went back to work full time when my girls were six months old but really they still consumed most of my thoughts, I just did my best to “fake it” and act like I had other interests. I managed my message pretty carefully and tried not to complain, but rather to be factual when asked. Parenting talk can be a spiral of negativity and I didn’t want to participate in that. It’s a dirty little secret of parenting that those little people do and should become the center of your life. We parents *are* their whole lives, we control every aspect of their existence when in those first years, we should be fully engaged in them. “With great power comes great responsibility” or something to that effect.

    This is the hardest job you’ll ever do, so it’s ok that it feels hard sometimes. That he’s always on your means you are doing it right, but if you are getting flack for talking about it too much then do a little message management for the masses. I think you are a great mom and that Eli is a lucky little guy to have you be such a present and loving parent.

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  • Hi, Katie,
    I came across your blog while googling my book (which I do weekly to see who’s talking about me,if anyone!) and your first commenter’s suggestion — to read Mean Moms Rule — came up. Selfishly, of course, I have to say she’s right — read my book! You know, in your spare time! But I read through your post and I agree with other commenters in that you should give yourself a whole bucket of slack right now. The first year IS intense. That your son is always on your mind, particularly when he’s sick or it’s otherwise been a pain in the butt few days, is normal. But. But. It’s NOT good for you,or in the long run for him, if that’s ALL that’s ever on your mind. You can be present for your son, and still be YOU. I think you were smart to check your Twitter feed and see that — yep! — it’s been all about Eli this week. The trick is to recognize and temper that tendency, and to NOT feel guilty about it. As your son grows and needs you less and less in small and gradually bigger ways, you need to rely more on what made you tick as a person and a woman. And HE needs to see that. We all want our children to grow up to be healthy, separate, individual persons, yes? Best way to start that process is to model it yourself!

    Go easy on yourself!

    Denise Schipani, aka The Mean Mom

    [Reply]

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Welcome!
I'm Katie, a 30-year-old, wife, mom, former teacher-turned PT, who also had brain surgery in November of 2007. This blog chronicles my daily life, from mundane to crazy, often with far too much detail. Sit down, get comfortable and stay for a while.
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